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The Story of Ahikar, folktale of Babylonian or Persian origin, about a wise and moral man who supposedly served as one of the chief counselors of Sennacherib.
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There I sustained you iv as a man deals with his brother, having hidden you from him and having said 'I killed him,' until at a later time and after many days I brought you before King Sennacherib and cleared you of offenses before him and he did you no evil. Moreover, Sennacherib was well pleased with me for having kept you alive and not having killed you.

Now do you do to me even as I did to you. Don't kill me. Take me to your house until other times. King Esarhaddon is merciful as any man?

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In the end he will remember me and wish for my advice. Then you will present me to him and he will spare me alive. Then the officer Nabusumiskun answered and said, "Fear not, my lord Ahiqar, father of all Assyria, by whose counsel King Sennacherib and all the host of Assyria were guided! This is Ahiqar. He is a great man and a bearer of the seal of King Esarhaddon, and the whole army of Assyria was guided by his counsel and words. Let us not kill him [undeservedly].

The Story of Ahikar

I will give you a eunuch slave of mine. Let him be slain between these two mountains instead of this Ahiqar. Since only the right half--or less than half--of col. V is preserved, its translation involves too much conjecture. It is, however, certain that Nabusumiskun's companions agree to his plan, and Nabusumiskun secretly main- tains Ahiqar in his house as Ahiqar once maintained Nabusumiskun.

The latter and his two companions report to Esarhaddon that they have slain Ahiqar.


The rest of the story is missing altogether. We know from the later recensions that eventually the king did, in fact, miss Ahiqar's advice sorely and was overjoyed to learn that he was still alive, and that Ahiqar was rehabilitated while Nadin got his deserts.

Even so is the meeting of men. Behold that is dear to Shamash. But he who drinks wine and does not give it to drink, and one whose wisdom goes astray, and. For all time the kingdom is hers. In heaven is she established, for the lord of holy ones has exalted her. More than all watchfulness watch thy mouth, and over what thou hearest harden thy heart.

Ui : he was a Nubian, the freedman of Lokain, the son of Jesr. He was bom in the tenth year of king David : he was a virtuous slave to whom God granted the gift of wisdom : he lived, and did not cease to give to the world the example of wisdom and piety, until the days of Jonas the son of Mattai when he was sent to the people of Nineveh, in the district of Mosul.

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The identification with Balaam proceeds, like that of Asaph, from a desire to find a place for an inspired prophet in Biblical Chronology; and it leads, perhaps, to the geographical location of the prophet in Midian : although this may be merely a mis- understanding for Media. There does not seem to be any coincidence with Ahikar. Another curious point in connexion with the Moslem tradi- tions is the discussion whether Loqman was or was not a prophet.

This discussion cannot have been borrowed from a Greek source, for the idea which is involved in the debate is a Semitic idea. On the other hand it should be noticed that there are reasons for believing that he was regarded in some circles and probably from the earliest times as a prophet. The fact of his teaching in aphorisms is of no weight against this classification: for the Hebrew Bible has two striking instances of exactly similar cha- racter, in both of which the sage appears as prophet. Thus Frov. If then Lokman does not owe his place in the list to his Biblical position, it is diflBcult to avoid the conclusion that he and the others are taken out of some kind of Biblical Chronology or Chronicon.

This opinion is confirmed by Al Masudi's statement, that he was bom in the 10th year of king David, which almost implies the use of a Chronicon. David fuit Empedocles sapiens, unus e quinque columnis Philosophiae. Ilium autumo, Pytha- goram, Socratem, Platonem et Aristotelem Ait alius, Primum qui philosophiae operam dedit, fuisse Pythagoram. But according to Al Masudi, we may date him even more closely than this; for he is said to have been bom in the tenth year of David. Why the tenth year? May we not fairly suspect that Lokman, who is known to be equivalent to the Greek Aesop, has here been equated with Asaph?

The same thing is involved in the statement of Al Masudi that Lokman was a Nubian slave. His Aesop is, therefore, a disguised Joseph. And our Cambridge ms. Ixxix How closely this is reproduced in Planudes may be seen from the following references: p. The legend of Ahikar has also had an influence upon other books of a similar type, where story-telling and the enforcement of ethical maxims are combined. The opening of the story is as follows : 'There was once a king whose name was Cyrus.

He had seven wives; but had become old and had no son. Then He arose and prayed, and vowed a vow and anointed himself. And it pleased God to give him a son. Then he gave him over to learn wisdom and he was three years with his teacher, without however learning anything. I brought thee up with the best upbringing and trained thee like a tall cedar. At the conclusion of the Syntipas legends, when the young man is solving all the hard ethical problems that his father proposes to him, we again find a trace of Ahikar, for he speaks of the ' insatiate eye which as long as it sees wealth is so ardent after it that he regards not Grod, until in death the earth covers his eyes.

Cf Sura , 'The emulous desire of multiplying [riches and children] employeth you, until ye visit the graves. B, dist li Prestres, di od mei ; B, dist li Leus, la lettre vei C, dit li Prestres, di avant; 0, dist li Lox, a-il dune tant? Li Prestres feit, o di par toi ; Li Loz respunt jeo ne sai qoi. Ixxxi Di ke t'en samble et si espel; Respiint li Lox, aignel, aignel.

It is somewhat strange, in view of the wide circulation of the book in Armenian, that there are not more traces of it found in the Armenian literature. Perhaps this is due to the lateness of the version. Mr Conybeare has made some enquiry on this point and reports as follows : " The date of the Armenian version is hard to ascertain.

The Venice MS. The version itself, however, must be much older.

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For this MS. It is the best exponent of a group of MSS. But this archetype already contained profound modi- fications of the text, from which the copy that is the ancestor of Bodl. Canon was free. We must then assume a tolerably long history for the text previously to about On linguistic grounds I should refer the version to the twelfth or thirteenth century. Perhaps reminiscences of the book are to be found in Armenian which would postulate an earlier date for the version, but I know of none. Lazar of Pharb, indeed, writing towards the close of the fifth century, appears to have an acquaintance with one proverb in the Wisdom of Khikar, but not necessarily with an Armenian version.

He is writing from Amid in Mesopotamia, and, referring to the ' national heresy ' of his compatriots, quotes the sajdng, 'Her that married a swine, befits a bath of sewer- water. We will now add some considerations which throw further light upon the first form of the legend and upon the language in which it circulated.

It has already been suggested that the original document was probably coeval with Tobit, with which and with other books of the Old Testament such as Daniel and Sirach it has much consanguinity.

Seventh to Sixth Century B.C.

So that there is a prejudication in favour of the hjrpothesis of a Hebrew original, for it is generally conceded that Tobit was originally written in Hebrew or Aramaic, and the actual Hebrew text of Sirach has recently come to light in an unexpected manner. We can largely clear the ground for the discussion of this question by reducing the multiplicity of the versions, as by referring the Ethiopic texts to an Arabic base, and the Arabic to a Syriac origin, while the Slavonic texts are only a disguise for a Greek version.

We should then have to discuss the mutual relations of Greek, Syriac and Armenian texts. In this case the Greek is, however, not the Greek of Planudes, but a hypo- thetical Greek which explains the existence of the Slavonic and is itself lost. Of the Armenian version Mr Conybeare reports that in the oldest forms of the legend which he has examined there is a good agreement of the Armenian with the Syriac and some signs of Greek influence.

Ixxxiii the enquiry would be one of priority between an existing Syriac version and a hypothetical lost Greek text. We are still in the preliminary stages of such an enquiry, and must express ourselves cautiously as to the final solution of the problem involved in the linguistic rivalry. But we may at least say that there are signs of an immediate derivation of the existing Syriac from a lost Hebrew or Aramaic original.

Amongst these signs there are a number of Cases of the conjunction of the infinitive with the substantive verb. If this supposition can be verified the demonstration will be complete. And there is some- thing to be said for it. The author of the legends makes in his parables a lesson for a wolf: they bid the wolf say, according to the Armenian version, ayp, hen, gim Le. Clearly the Armenian is preserving a trait from the original, in which the wolf, learning his alphabet, names animals which he has eaten, according to the method of a child's picture-blocks, only that the material of the illustration has to be gastronomic.

That feature has disappeared.

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In the old French the wolf, in despair at the length of the lesson, proceeds to say it his own way, ' Aignel, Aignel,' and here the first letter is preserved, though the translation appears to have broken down on the second letter of the alphabet. For he gives nothing more than lamb to his wolf.